More bite needed in texting law

“Distracted driving” by those using cell phones -often for texting or other activities requiring them to take one or both hands off the wheel – causes a substantial number of traffic accidents. Ohio has a law against it, but it has done little to curb the problem.

Current law makes texting while driving a misdemeanor crime in the Buckeye State. But police cannot pull motorists over solely for engaging in the practice. Some other offense has to be the trigger, or primary reason for a traffic stop.

Just 114 citations have been issued under the law this year, according to a published report.

Many states already have statutes allowing police to pull over and ticket distracted drivers solely on the strength of spotting them misusing their cell phones. Three Ohio lawmakers have introduced bills to put the Buckeye State on the list.

Reportedly, most legislators are not eager to act on any of the measures. They should be. Cracking down on distracted drivers may be viewed by some as a matter of politics – upsetting voters.

More important is the effect a better state law would have on discouraging motorists from misusing cell phones, if necessary through arrests and fines.

Banning all use of cell phones by motorists would be impractical and unnecessary. “Hands-free” equipment allows use of the devices to make and answer calls safely. It should be permitted.

But making misuse a primary offense with stiff fines – one bill calls for $100 on the first offense and $300 thereafter – could make a real difference. It could save lives.

Ohio legislators should adopt a distracted driving bill with real teeth. They should not delay in doing so.

editorial@tribtoday.com

More bite needed in texting law

“Distracted driving” by those using cell phones often for texting or other activities requiring them to take one or both hands off the wheel causes a substantial number of traffic accidents. Ohio has a law against it, but it has done little to curb the problem.

Current law makes texting while driving a misdemeanor crime in the Buckeye State. But police cannot pull motorists over solely for engaging in the practice. Some other offense has to be the trigger, or primary reason for a traffic stop.

Just 114 citations have been issued under the law this year, according to a published report.

Many states already have statutes allowing police to pull over and ticket distracted drivers solely on the strength of spotting them misusing their cell phones. Three Ohio lawmakers have introduced bills to put the Buckeye State on the list.

Reportedly, most legislators are not eager to act on any of the measures. They should be. Cracking down on distracted drivers may be viewed by some as a matter of politics upsetting voters.

More important is the effect a better state law would have on discouraging motorists from misusing cell phones, if necessary through arrests and fines.

Banning all use of cell phones by motorists would be impractical and unnecessary. Hands-free equipment allows use of the devices to make and answer calls safely. It should be permitted.

But making misuse a primary offense with stiff fines one bill calls for $100 on the first offense and $300 thereafter could make a real difference. It could save lives.

Ohio legislators should adopt a distracted driving bill with real teeth. They should not delay in doing so.

editorial@tribtoday.com